FGCU could mean big economic boost for southwest Florida


Video by fox4now.com

FGCU could mean big economic boost for southwest Florida

By Gabrielle Sarann. CREATED Mar 26, 2013

FORT MYERS, Fla. -  The Eagle's win is the single biggest thing to happen to FGCU since it opened 22 years ago. And the opportunity for southwest Florida to profit from it is enormous. 

Fans were eager for a token of Eagle's excitement. "It's a chance at getting history so i told the kids we may as well wait," said Karen Cowhey, visiting from IL.

The wait at the bookstore for a Sweet 16 t-shirt was as long as an hour. 

"This line's crazy long, it's like insane," said Sammy, Cowhey's son.

Stores like JP Sports don't have the prized top yet. And it can barely keep FGCU swag in stock. 

"This is a market that's not prepared for what just happened," said David Grant, the executive board member of the Eagle's Club. He flew home with the team early Monday morning.

"The financial opportunity and the impact for this market is 10 to 20 times what it was a week ago today," explained Grant.

And even the City of Palms is cashing in. Through the tournament, its new nickname is Dunk City. 

"I've heard different business owners talking about already how they can get behind and support FGCU," said Heather Christie, the president of the Greater Fort Myers Chamber of Commerce.

Pincher's Crab Shack is one of those places. Sales spiked more for the NCAA tournament than any other event. 

"In those two days we're up $10,000 compared to the exact same days last year," said Grant Phalen, the president of the restaurants.

At Gulf Coast Town Center, shoppers couldn't get enough gear. 

"It's brought so much spirit and basketball fever to this area, I've never seen it," said Jane Hopson, a seasonal resident from Estero.

An opportunity to capture imaginations and boost revenue one sale at a time.

"We have the greatest sports story that's going on and has happened in quite some time," said Grant.